By Steven Voser

American states are constantly changing their stance on cannabis and its legality. While this makes for an exciting time for cannabis users eager to access dispensaries and other sources of legal weed, it has also turned the legal cannabis landscape into a minefield. In this article, we take an updated look at cannabis in the US, and walk you through the ins and outs of American cannabis law as it stands in early 2023.

Note: US cannabis laws are constantly changing. We'll do our best to update this article as needed.

By state, as of 2023
      Recreational and Medical         Medical         Not Legalized

Rules vary in each jurisdiction, check state and local laws. CBD only states not included.

Whether you're living in the US or simply travelling there, having a solid understanding of American cannabis laws is a sound idea for any stoner. Use the map above to learn the ins and outs of state cannabis laws.

As of 2023, 29 states have legalized cannabis for medical use. Meanwhile, nine states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational cannabis. Trends continue to support legalization, with the latest polls showing that almost 90% of people in the US believe that cannabis should be legal to some degree[1]. US President Joe Biden has also openly shared his support for making changes to federal cannabis legislation. In October 2022[3], Biden pardoned thousands of people trialled for possessing cannabis and initiated a review charged with revising how cannabis is classified under federal law.

Why the Fuss? — Understanding Why US Cannabis Laws Are So Complex

US cannabis laws are so complex because all 50 states are separate sovereigns with individual constitutions, governments, and courts; this means they retain the power to make their own laws regarding anything that hasn't been addressed by the federal constitution.

And even though cannabis is a controlled substance under US federal law, many states have enacted laws permitting its use for industrial, medical, or even recreational purposes. Under the doctrine of preemption (Article VI of the US Constitution), federal cannabis laws technically overrule any state laws, and the federal government could (and has) penalised the possession, cultivation, use, and/or sale of cannabis in any state, even those that deem cannabis legal or decriminalised.

Nonetheless, the DEA (the federal government's Drug Enforcement Agency) doesn't always act out this power, leaving states to operate their pseudo-legal cannabis systems in a state of limbo.

Who Can Access Medical Weed in the US?

Individual states have different policies regarding who can access medical marijuana. In most cases, state medical marijuana programmes have a list of conditions that, under state laws, qualify for treatment with cannabis. The list of qualifying conditions varies from one state to another, but may include:

  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Epilepsy and other seizure disorders
  • Crohn's disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Glaucoma
  • Severe nausea or vomiting from cancer or HIV/AIDS treatment
  • Severe chronic pain

In states with legal medical marijuana, patients can either access FDA-approved cannabinoid-based drugs like Epidiolex (CBD) and dronabinol (THC)—both of which are formulated in a laboratory—or plant-based cannabis (such as marijuana flowers, tinctures, or extracts) sold at licensed dispensaries. If you believe you qualify for medical marijuana and are considering using it as a treatment, make sure to read up on your state laws and consult with a doctor.

US Dispensaries

Who Can Access Recreational Weed in the US?

In the nine states with legal recreational cannabis and D.C., weed is sold via licensed dispensaries. Depending on the state, these dispensaries may be arranged somewhat differently and offer a different selection of products for medical patients and recreational patients. Recreational cannabis dispensaries sell to adults aged 21 years and over, and may stock a variety of cannabis flower, extracts, edibles, and topicals, depending on what is legal in that particular state.

Can You Buy Weed Online in the US?

Yes. In some states, cannabis can be bought online, either directly from a dispensary's website or using a delivery services app such as Weedmaps, Greenrush, and Eaze. Some dispensaries, on the other hand, may take orders online but ask customers to pick up their products in-store.

What Is the Average Price of Weed in the US?

Weed prices across the US vary considerably. Dispensaries manage their own prices, and different states have different marijuana tax schemes that also have a big impact on the retail price of cannabis. According to a 2018 article in Forbes[3], the average price of an “eighth” of cannabis flower (3.1.9 oz) in the US is $40. The District of Columbia[4] has been repeatedly reported as having the highest cannabis prices in the US, clocking in at $590 per ounce (28.1.2 oz), or $73.35 per eighth.

So far, we've covered how to get weed as a recreational user or medical patient in the US. But what about growers wanting to buy seeds? For many US growers, the legality surrounding cannabis seeds is murky at best.

Under federal law, cannabis seeds are considered a cannabis product in the same way that flowers or hash are. Hence, cannabis seeds technically classify as a controlled substance. In states with legal weed, however, seeds are sometimes sold at dispensaries or via websites from breeders/collectives. However, transporting seeds across state lines has long been considered a big no-no. That was, however, until last year, when the DEA released a letter clarifying the legality of cannabis seeds.

The letter states that any cannabis seed containing less than 0.3% THC classifies as hemp rather than marijuana, and therefore is legal under the 2018 Farm Bill. Note, however, that this letter is not a law, leaving the legality of transporting and buying seeds still somewhat nebulous. While many international seed banks ship to the US from their country of origin, customs will confiscate any seeds they find in the mail. Hence, we recommend buying seeds from companies located inside the US, and to avoid bringing them over state lines.

What's the Best Way to Buy Cannabis Seeds Online in the US?

At Royal Queen Seeds, we're proud to announce that we've set up store in the US. Since our seeds all contain less than 0.3% THC and are shipped from our warehouses in the states, we can legally ship our beloved strains to growers in all regions of the country.

Royal Queen Seeds Has Landed in the US!

The US is home to a rich cannabis culture and some of the most revered new strains. As one of Europe's largest and most well-known seedbanks, we're proud to have set up store in the US and be part of the action. Browse our full selection of seeds and grow products today, and get growing!

Buy F1 Hybrids
External Resources:
  1. Overwhelming support for legal recreational or medical marijuana in U.S. | Pew Research Center
  2. Biden overhauls U.S. policy on marijuana, pardons prior federal offenses | Reuters
  3. Here's How Much Marijuana Costs in the United States vs Canada
  4. High quality cannabis prices by U.S. state 2022 | Statista
  5. DEA Says Marijuana Seeds Are Considered Legal Hemp As Long As They Don't Exceed THC Limit - Marijuana Moment
This content is for educational purposes only. The information provided is derived from research gathered from external sources.

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